Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Age and Success - a preliminary theory

Recently, I have found myself wondering about what it means to be an adult, and whether or not I am being a reasonably successful one.  After all, I've only been at it for a few years.  While living through college, my wedding, homebuying, and the beginning of puppy parenthood, as well as a work schedule that severely inhibits watching re-runs of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," I occasionally ask myself where those dreams of winning a Pulitzer, a gold medal, an Oscar, and three Nobel prizes (in one year) went.  I intended to be ridiculously successful by the time I finished school, so I wouldn't have to pick a "career"! 

With every epiphany of adulthood, a little bit more of my childlike side withers. Not that the husband and paycheck are anything to sneeze at -- but how do you compare them to summer vacation, drama club, and Nickelodeon? Some of those childhood memories are tough to let go, though:
When I realized that every female gymnast in the Summer Olympics was younger than me, it became time to give up my dream of winning a gold medal by way of learning to do something remotely athletic.
When the entire cast of the Disney Channel was suddenly younger than me, and admiring the Jonas brothers felt a little awkward, I had to let go of that lingering wish to be a Movie Surfer and guest-star on Lizzie McGuire.
When I recently discovered that 90% of the contestants on "The Bachelor" were within spitting distance of my age, something gave me a chill -- it was like waking up with my teddy bear after drooling on it in my sleep, leaving it damp and cold on my pillow, instead of comforting and snuggly.
Names like Selena Gomez, Taylor Lautner, Justin Bieber, and Youtube-kid-who-plays-the-piano-and-sings-like-an-even-more-neonatal-Justin-Bieber are constantly mentioned everywhere.  The seasoned older generation of entertainers (with the lovely exception of Betty White) seems content to fade into obscurity, hawking memory-foam mattresses and sports bars.   Therefore, the average age of famous, successful people seems to be dropping at the very time that my age is rapidly increasing.  Don't bother arguing with my logic -- I made a graph:

(Please note that my standards are not overly high.  I'm not shooting for JK-Rowling-level fame here, nor am I trying to become more famous than Twilight and Chuck Norris combined.  I hope to be slightly more famous than a teenager who can't seem to remember how to wear clothes properly and a chick who stuck a money sign in her name and attempted to rhyme "clothes" with "phones.")

If this trend continues, I will soon pass that critical threshold of finishing school forever, attain multiple degrees in things that are useful but not especially high-profile, and miss my last shot at youthful fame and fortune, resigning myself to things like a "career." "Maturity." "401k." "Metamucil."
The problem is that I am running out of time.  How am I ever going to leap from this current bypass-of-fantasticality into that desirable fame lane, especially when my knees seem to be growing more arthritic by the moment?
Well, I thought a lot about it, and a blog seemed like a better/cleaner/safer path towards prominence than reality television, politics, or an escort service.  Which are all pretty similar, when you think about it.  For the record, however, maintaining a blog of genuine anecdotal humor will require MUCH more effort than any of those other career avenues.  So you're welcome.  And thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry, I'm only now getting a chance to read these posts, being too distracted by my own (nearing-completion) school phase (at least in the sciences they ease you into the real world, going from undergrad to grad to postdoc to prof).

    But I understand what you mean. I had a small crisis of purpose when I realized I'm getting closer to making the decisions that stick--what will I do with my degree, how should I balance family and work, etc. I started to look around at my mentors and colleagues and realized that I didn't want to be like most of them. My advisor is constantly traveling, conferencing, writing, etc and never has significant time for anyone. With a bit more work, I could be at that level of success. But I don't want to aim that high anymore. I've been working for the A's all my life, and I think I'd be happier now with a B+. I just want to be an above-average researcher and an even better teacher/mentor, so that I can have time to devote to family and other semi-realistic goals (learning as many arts/crafts as possible and breeding siamese cats). And while I'm still not sure how to find that perfect level, I feel better now that I've accepted some realism.

    Also, I totally plan to live vicariously through my children. They WILL learn to play the piano. Because I never did.